What I Learned About Leading a Technology PD
In the Wayside School series by Louis Sachar, Mrs. Jewels says that if you learn three things each day, you’ll eventually know everything there is to know. I am well on my way.
I recently had the opportunity to lead my first big technology professional development at our school, where I discussed various technology tools teachers can use to increase engagement with the students. I led three different sessions of about ten teachers each which meant that every teacher in my building came to my session.
My building is a 1-1 building, but overall I would describe our staff as fairly low-tech. Most of us use technology, but not far beyond our favorite two or three sites. Therefore, when I decided to help share some new ideas, I feared the response would be lukewarm, but instead, I was surprised in ways I never expected. Here are three things I learned about leading a technology PD that you might find useful.
1. Most of the people you might call “non-techies” really wanted to learn. — This was the biggest surprise. I figured there would be a large swath of the staff (maybe half) who would be uninterested in anything I had to offer. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The majority of these people truly wanted to find ways they could easily integrate technology. They asked questions that indicated technology was something somewhat scary, but not scary enough to drive them away. Overcoming these thoughts was their goal.
2. I had to constantly resist the urge to touch the teachers’ computers. — Whenever there was a question, my instinct was to grab their mouse and say, “Let me show you that.” After all, that would be the easiest way to make the computer do what I wanted it to. Unfortunately, if I’m doing the clicking, then I’m doing the learning. As teachers, we know the best way to learn is to do, and I had to force myself to allow that to happen.
3. It was beneficial to have a “If you don’t like this, try this” option. – To begin the session, I went through three tools I personally use and enjoy. The plan was to then allow the teachers to explore these three tools on their own and decide how they might be used in their classrooms. At the last moment I said, “And if you didn’t like anything I said today, you can explore this site, and see if something there would be more useful.” (I offered classtools.net for this option) I was glad I did! I’d estimate that half of the group used their worktime to go exploring. Honestly, this makes sense. While I understand what my fourth graders need, they are the experts on what would work best in kindergarten, a music classroom, or the resource room.
Hopefully these pieces of advice will help you if you ever have the opportunity to lead a professional development session!